Board Writing :: War of Shadows :: Page 1
The nearby trees cast long shadows across the narrow trail as the sun set. Orson used these to reach the bushes that he believed would provide the greatest level of invisibility. He wove some of the nearby shadows into a thick black barrier in order to ensure that he would not be seen. Then settled himself into a comfortable position to wait for his quarry.
As he waited Orson started thinking about his past, the good old days at the Academy, before he got cast out. He remembered his favourite professor, Dr Bait, and the lessons he taught about the magic in the world.
"Before you learn how to manipulate the elements in the world you need to understand the laws of magic. As you probably already know there are six elements in our world: Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Light and Shadow. Mages manipulate the elements to make magic, however, they are limited by two things, their mental abilities and the element that they wish to direct, you cannot manipulate what is not there."
Just then Orson heard the sound of a small group of men marching, he readied his crossbow and waited for what was undoubtedly his prey. The target was a leader of one of the more powerful rebel clans who plagued the Empire, General Achma. The General was a man of large build and well muscled, fortunately he wore no armour. Because of his years of association with shadow magic, Orson had incredible darkvision which let him see the General as he came into range. By the time Achma's guards realised he was dead Orson was long gon
After leaving the scene Orson fled into the forest where his current employer waited. The forest was an old one and little light pierced through the thick canopy. Orson's terrible sense of direction led him astray and in a few hours he was hopelessly lost. The small clearing which was designated as the rendezvous should only have been an hour or so away from his original position. Vasez, a minor councillor of the emperor and Orson's current employer, would not wait long.
It was another hour before Orson came in sight of the clearing. To his surprise Vasez was not alone. The short, portly man had been joined by a tall man in concealing robes. Orson stepped forward into the clearing and ignored the man.
"Vasez, I'll have my money now," said Orson
"Achma is dead then? Do you have proof?" replied Vasez in his high pitched voice.
"Since when have I ever needed proof? Normally my word is good enough for you. You mentioned other jobs when last we met. You wouldn't want me to look for a more trusting employer would you?"
The short man sighed as he tossed a purse to Orson and began to explain Orson's next task.
"Your target this time is the lord of Seyai. Our spies have discovered that Lord Emryic has been arming some of the rebel clans trying to overthrow the Emperor. As you probably know he is one of the wealthiest and best protected men in the empire. The Emperor believes that you may need help for this mission and has offered you the service of the greatest assasin in his pay. Good luck to both of you.
"Help?" burst out Orson uncontrollably. "Since when have I ever needed help? You don't think I can do this on my own?"
"No," corrected Vasez, "I don't think the two of you will be able to do it, quite honestly, but the odds are much better." After a bit of mumbling profanities, Orson finally swallowed enough of his pride to accept the assistance.
"So, just who is this fellow I'll be paired with, then?" With a slight tilt of his head, Vasez hinted towards the tall, cloaked man beside himself, whom the shadowy mercenary had forgotten about. "Oh, right. Him. So, what's your name, guy?" No answer came from the darkened hood. Hushed words were spoken by Vasez in warning.
"Don't speak to directly to him," he slowly squeaked while staring into Orson's eyes with the utmost gravity and fear. Confused by the order, Orson tried to figure something out about his undesired partner for the mission, but the gaunt giant's identity was entirely covered by his robes. His sleeves stretched down past his knees and bore no opening for his hands. There was nothing else to his guise, not a hint as to who he was. The slight crevice in his hood hung far below his head and shrouded his face with a darkness that even the trained dark vision of Orson could not pierce.
"Stop looking at him," Vasez added to the list of things not to do. "He doesn't appreciate being looked at." Casting one last scrutinizing eye upon the silent titan, Orson returned to addressing the portly employer.
"What's with this guy?" he rhetorically asked before moving on to actual questions. "What is his name?" A uncertain shrug was the only response given. "You don't know? I thought you said he was the Emperor's 'greatest assassin'? Surely, he-" Vasez stopped him a solemn sway of his head, back and forth. "I don't like this guy. I at least would like to have some idea of who this guy was. I don't have a name, a face, anything. How do I know who he is? How can I trust him?"
"We never bothered to shed light on just who he was. He got the jobs done, and that was more than satisfactory to the Emperor. As for his face," he let out a chuckle. "Let's just say that those robes aren't a fashion statement, Orson. They are for our protection," the employer stated as he turned to leave the two assassins to their business. "Many a man has been felled by a mere glimpse," Vasez called out as he vanished into the forest.
"Wait," cried out the dark slayer. "What... does he do?"
"He kills, Orson," the words echoes from the trees. "He kills well."
The mercenary of shade gazed in bewilderment for a moment at his new colleague before remembering that he was not to do that. He thought it odd that such a high ranked individual would not be more known to him. The more he pondered, the more he remembered vague rumors regarding a nameless man who engulfed armies single handed. This Nameless did not have mastery over his magic, it was told, and thus it destroyed everything around him. But this was just a hysterical rumor created by the rebels, surely. No one that powerful could actually be. ...
"Off to Seyai, I guess," Orson spoke, making certain to clearly address to himself as not to offend his companion
As the two assassins started walking towards Castle Seyai, Orson tried to remember more about the rumors of the Nameless man which had cropped up recently. He tried to recall what little information he'd heard but because he had dismissed the rumors as poor excuses made by useless bodyguards he found it difficult. He could only recall the stories of the Nameless' magic, a magic described as being similar to shadow magic but which seemed to emanate from him rather than be drawn from the shadows. Orson also believed that it was much more powerful than shadow magic which had few harmful spells. Two silent days later the two reached the castle which seemed to be only lightly guarded.
"Too easy," scoffed Orson as he settled down to wait for nightfall.
A few hours later it was time. Orson wrapped some of the nearby shadows around him to aid his imperceptibility, he was about to do the same to his partner but realized that the robed man would have his own ways of avoiding detection. For not the first time Orson silently cursed Vasez for pairing him up with the Nameless man. Orson started walking to the base of the wall section which he thought was the least guarded and was also the most dilapidated but noticed his partner heading towards a different section.
"He might not be such a good partner," Orson muttered, "But Iím sure he'll make a good distraction."
When he reached the base of the wall he looked for the easiest way up and noted areas that probably wouldn't hold his weight. Five minutes later and he was near the top of the wall waiting for the guard to pass, surprisingly he hadn't heard a sound from his partners direction. As the guard went by Orson climbed the rest of the way. He covered the guardís mouth with his hand and slit his throat, it took only a short while for the guard to cease struggling.
It was then that Orson saw his partner being attacked by three guards on the wall a few hundred feet away. One of the guards had opened his mouth to raise the alarm but was stopped by the Nameless man who punched the man in the throat with such speed and force that the guard was almost knocked off the wall into the courtyard. The other guards were quickly dealt with as he elbowed one in the groin and turned around and kicked the other in the stomach. There was only one or two seconds between the death of the first guard and the death of the third.
After seeing the slaughter of the three guards Orson had a better look at the rest of the walls and the courtyard. Strangely there were no other guards in sight and Orson began to worry, thinking that the missing guards may have alerted the rest of the castle. Then he noticed the pile of corpses.
In the middle of the courtyard were the missing guards. They had all been killed the same way as the other three guards, many had looks of surprise on their faces. They died before realizing that they were being attacked. Orson shuddered as he looked at his partner and wondered just what he was.
Orson shook off the feelings of horror and continued towards the rooms of Lord Emryic thinking that maybe it was time for a holiday. After a few minutes of careful and uneventful sneaking the two assassins saw a patrolling guard around a corner. Orson pressed himself against the wall and waited for the guard to pass but his partner had other ideas. At incredible speed the Nameless rushed the guard and delivered a powerful uppercut which sent the guard flying.
After a few more minutes the assassins reached an ornate door. Orson pressed his ear to the door hoping to hear snoring. After listening for a moment he was disappointed.
"Oh $#!&," exclaimed Orson as he saw the unit of elite guardsmen waiting for him.
"Didn't you wonder about the lack of guards," said the well dressed man that could only be Emryic. "Vasez did tell you that I'm one of the most well guarded men in the Empire."
"I'm more surprised that he accepted the 'help' from the darkling," called the voice of Vasez from the back of the room.
"You're in on this as well?" Questioned the confused assassin, "Why would you betray the Emperor, Vasez, after all he's done for you? And what the hell is a darkling."
"Poor naive Orson," Vasez replied, "We haven't betrayed the Emperor, we're getting rid of filth like you. The Emperor has decided that an assassin of your caliber is a danger to him."
"This is a darkling," added Emryic as he pointed to Orson's supposed partner, "He is a creature of the netherworld, a being with the innate ability to call on the powers of Shadow and Fire."
Orson was horrified to learn that the Emperor had been consorting with demons. Before he could reply a guard came from behind and hit Orson over the head rendering the assassin unconscious
** There is still more to this story.
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